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Many laws exist to help minors at work. These laws:
- keep kids in safe jobs;
- ensure that kids are not overworked;
- prohibit discrimination; and
- provide for decent pay.
A minor is an individual under 18 years old. Some rules apply to all minors. Other rules and exceptions apply based on the minor's age. Generally, Maryland law prohibits children under the age of 14 from working, with some exceptions. Note that this article does not cover the topics of taxes or work permits.
Maryland law prohibits children under the age of 14 from working, but there are exceptions. A child under the age of 14 may perform the following types of work, if the work is performed outside of school hours, does not involve manufacturing or mining, and is not a restricted hazardous occupation:
- Farm work;
- Domestic work;
- Working for a parent’s business;
- Caddying at a golf course;
- Teaching on a sailboat;
- Delivering newspapers;
- Making an evergreen wreath in or near a home;
- Acting as a counselor or instructor at a certified youth camp; or
- Unpaid volunteer work (parent/guardian must consent in writing).
Entertainer Exception - If a minor gets a special work permit, he or she can work at any age as a model, performer, or entertainer. The application and permits are available only at the Baltimore Office of the Maryland Department of Labor. Learn more about work permits.
Minors are forbidden from working in certain dangerous jobs.
All minors cannot work at in, about, or in connection with:
- the manufacturing of a hazardous substance,
- blast furnaces,
- distilleries where alcoholic beverages are manufactured, bottled, wrapped, or packed,
- an engineer, fireman, or pilot on a commerce vessel,
- docks or wharves (other than marinas where pleasure boats are sold or served),
- the erection and repair of electrical wires,
- the manufacturing of a hazardous substance.
- the cleaning, oiling, or wiping of machinery, and
- any occupation forbidden by any local, state or federal law.
In addition to the restrictions listed above, minors under 16 cannot work at, about, or in connection with:
- an acid, dye, gas, lye, or paint,
- an airport,
- a brickyard,
- a lumberyard,
- a workroom or work site where goods are manufactured or processed,
- a scaffolding, a vessel when engaged in navigation or commerce,
- an occupation that causes dust in an injurious quantity,
- a manufacturing occupation,
- a mechanical occupation,
- a processing occupation, or
- the adjustment, cleaning, or operation of power-driven machinery except unless it is an office machine or machinery used in a school.
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squads - Minors may work as unpaid volunteers in a fire station or rescue squad if they are at least 16 years old, and are taking (or have completed) a course about firefighting or rescue work.
Money Handling Restrictions - There are also restrictions on money handling. Minors may not be employed to carry, to or from a business, money (in any amount) between 8pm and 8am. Minors also cannot carry, to or from a business, more than $100 during the day (8am-8pm). These rules do not apply if the minor:
- is a child of the manager, operator, or owner of the business, or
- is carrying money that the minor received for doing their job.
Additional Prohibitions - The Commissioner of Labor and Industry ("Commissioner") can prohibit additional occupations if:
- after a public hearing, the Commissioner determines that employment in the occupation should be prohibited to minors;
- the Commissioner adopts a determination by the U.S. Secretary of Labor under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that an occupation is hazardous; or
- after an investigation, the Commissioner determines that the occupation is injurious to minors' health and welfare or the morals of minors under 16 years old.
These rules apply to all minors. The Commissioner can grant exceptions to these rules if the Commissioner determines that there will be no hazard to the minor's health or welfare.
- You may not work more than 5 consecutive hours without a nonworking period of at least 30 minutes.
- Unless the Commissioner has granted an exception, your total school and work hours may not exceed 12 hours.
- You must have at least 8 consecutive hours that are not school or work hours.
In addition, if you are 14 or 15 years old, you may NOT work:
- before 7am or after 8pm, Labor Day through Memorial Day
- before 7am or after 9pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day
- more than
- 4 hours on any day when school is in-session
- 8 hours a day when school is not in-session
- 23 hours in a week when school is in-session for 5 days
- 40 hours in a week when school is not in-session
The Commissioner can grant an exception to these restrictions if:
- your parent/guardian provides written consent; AND
- the Commissioner determines that there will be no hazard to your health and welfare, and the exception will not impede you from fulfilling your school graduation requirements.
If you are 16 and 17 years old, there may be additional exceptions. For example, if you are serving as an election judge, you may work more than 12 hours on an early voting day or on election only, but you must have your parent/guardian's consent.
In Maryland, your parents may be allowed to take control of the money you earn if you are under the age of 18. The Court of Appeals (Maryland's highest court) has stated that a parent has a right to a child’s earnings. However, that right may be lost in certain circumstances. For example, a parent's right to a child’s earnings can be lost where the parent abandons or neglects the child or forces the child to leave the home.
Read the Case: Lucas v. Maryland Drydock Co., 182 Md. 54 (Md. 1943)